This year has been like no other and so, instead of bringing international artists to Achill, AIHF moves online to showcase the best of Irish performers to the world stage. Over the course of three days (23-25 October) there will be a variety of online events which will provide a flavour of what would normally be the live festival experience of previous years.
Nightly concerts will showcase the harp and harp music in a range of diverse forms. The opening Friday night concert will shine a light on up and coming young Mayo musicians Siar, followed by the exquisite Dublin duet of Anne-Marie O’Farrell and Cormac De Barra. Finishing off the evening are those legends of the traditional Irish music world, Steve Cooney and Dermot Byrne.
Saturday night’s concert will open with The Healy Family from Castlebar. Then travelling on to Ulster to hear a very special harp festival collaboration between Eilís Lavelle and Niall Hanna. This concert will close with something quite different, harpist and comedienne of Britain’s Got Talent fame, Ursula Burns, ‘The Dangerous Harpist’, will take to the stage. Anything might happen!
The finale concert on Sunday night will be streamed in partnership with TG4. Recorded in the historic surroundings of the Valley House in Achill, this promises to be a concert not to be missed. Opening the night will be Alfi, Alannah Thornburg, Fiachra Meek & Ryan McAuley. Audiences will be treated to their unique sound which combines Appalachian and traditional Irish music. Next on stage will be young Belfast concert harpist Richard Allen, with a stunning repertoire of breath taking classical music. Finishing off the night and the festival itself, will be Achill’s own Laoise Kelly TG4 Gradam Ceoil Ceoltóir na Bliana 2020.
Tuition is an integral part of the Achill International Harp Festival weekend and this year will be no different. Over the course of the weekend, nine intermediate and advanced workshops will be given by some of Ireland’s finest harpers. For those interested, these workshops will provide a fantastic opportunity to expand repetoire and master new technique and skills. In addition, AIHF will provide a lecture by William Jackson, Using the Small Harp in Music Therapy. This fascinating lecture gives an insight into the huge range of benefits associated with music therapy.
AIHF is passionate about providing a festival experience for all ages, abilities and interests. With this in mind there will be a number of other online events to ensure there is something for everyone to enjoy. Children of all ages can join Úna Ní Fhlannagáin for a bi-lingual storytime and hear the tale of Labhraí Loingseach – The King with the Donkey’s Ears! There will be a virtual guided walk through the Achill landscape providing the opportunity to hear some of the rich history of the island while enjoying the stunning views. For those interested in Harp Making there is the opportunity to watch course tutor and master craftsman Graham Wright in his workshop where he will give an insight into what is involved in the making of an Achill Harp. You may even be tempted to sign up for the next AIHF Harp Making workshop!
Mark it in your diaries, Achill International Harp Festival 23-25 October 2020 promises to be a weekend not to be missed.